Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Jan-Feb 2018 Issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine Is Out—Includes Legislative Insert

Subscribers to Minnesota Cities magazine received their print issue last week and the digital version is now available online.

As per tradition, the January-February print edition features a legislative insert that will bring you up to speed on results of the last legislative session and what League intergovernmental relations staff are anticipating for the 2018 session, which begins Feb. 20. Get a rundown of topics to watch, including bonding, email retention, and urban forest management. See the full list of 10 priorities that League lobbyists will focus on during the 2018 session. 

Print or online, you can also read a deep-dive on the recent wave of pre-emption bills introduced last year that will carry over to the second year of the biennium—what they could mean for your city, how they harm the city-state partnership, and how you can stay involved in the conversation.

More highlights:
See what the leaders of the future have to say on the topic of promoting city careers in LMC’s Mayor for a Day Essay Contest Winners (an annual favorite!)

Big news for small cities! Resources that will benefit cities of every size are what the League is all about, and we have heard loud and clear that a dedicated space for small cities would really make your day. Check out our new department, “Focus on Small Cities,” for the first topic by and for small cities, “A Difficult Question: Local Policing or County Contracting?

Allegations related to sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond may seem a distant problem, but there are lessons for all types of employers to be gained from the discussion. Review six common themes drawn from the guidance of experts in “Sexual Harassment: National Coverage, Local Lessons.”

And as always, check out From the Bench for summaries of recent court cases, St. Paul to City Hall for Executive Director David Unmacht’s thoughts on recruiting the next generation of civic leaders, and Bits & Briefs for a roundup of city conversation-starters.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Looking Forward to 2018—A New Year's Greeting from LMC Board President Jo Emerson

 A message from Jo Emerson, LMC board president and mayor of White Bear Lake:

As 2017 draws to a close, I'm taking time to reflect on the ups and downs we have encountered at the League.

This past fall I was fortunate enough to attend all seven regional meetings around this great state. I got to meet new people and connect with old friends. Thanks to those that hosted and to all who attended. We had good conversations on how we can encourage and support the next generation of elected and appointed officials.

Personally, my thanks to League staff for all the assistance you've given me as I navigate my new role. My heart went out to those who continued to provide excellent service to members while dealing with their grief following the loss of two long time League staffers, Duke Addicks and Tom Grundhoefer in late 2016 and early 2017. While those of us on the board felt the loss, I want staff to know how appreciated their efforts on our behalf have been.

With the knowledge that there are more ups and downs to come, I look forward to 2018 and the opportunity to work on behalf of all Minnesota cities. To kick off the new year, I hope that many of you will consider joining me at the Leadership Conferences for newly elected or experienced officials in January—these are great opportunities to strengthen skills and connections with colleagues. Together we can ensure that cities continue to be the drivers of the economy, and the places where our citizens can reside in peace and harmony.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Spreading Some Cheer with 2017 Dividend Deliveries

When our member cities are happy, we're happy! So what better way to spread some cheer all around than to deliver good news to cities in person? That's exactly what several staffers got to do recently when dividend checks for League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust members needed to be delivered. Many more staffers pitched in to stuff envelopes (check out that teamwork!), which were sent off via mail. All told, $6 million will be returned to members of the property/casualty program as a result of your dedication to staying safe and reducing claims. Good job, Minnesota cities, and let's keep smilin' in 2018! Curious? Learn more about the dividend here.

League staff from all over the building pitch in every year to stuff dividend envelopes.

Brooklyn Park City Manager Jay Stroebel and Assistant Finance Director Jeanette Boit-Kania
(left and middle) show off their dividend smiles delivered by LMC's Pam Whitmore.

Hastings City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee
(left) accepts her dividend from LMC staffer Kellie Sundheim.

Inver Grove Heights City Administrator Joe Lynch (left) receives a festive dividend
delivery from LMC's Donyelle Mikacevich.

Watertown City Administrator Shane Fineran (left) takes a moment to meet
with LMC's Deputy Director Luke Fischer, dividend deliverer extraordinaire.

Mendota Heights Finance Director Kristin Schabacker (right) is lookin’ cheery
and bright as LMC’s Laura Kushner delivers her city’s dividend.

Photo credit goes to several dividend helper elves.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Photos: Winter Carnival Fun and Fundraiser at LMC

League staff and board members gathered for an hour of fun prior to the last board meeting of the year. While several carnival-style games and some fierce department competition kept spirits high, the real lift came from the opportunity to support a neighborhood foodshelf and one of the League's charitable giving organizations. 

Through a canned good "admission ticket" as well as matching donations from Executive Director Dave Unmacht and department heads, carnival-goers were able to collect 10 boxes of food for Keystone Community Services and over $300 in donations for the United Way. And if anyone is wondering, it turns out tech services is really good at carnival games. Like, really good.

Loss Control Rep Liz Tadsse (blue) prepares for her next ping pong toss.

Executive Assistant Kellie Sundheim and Deputy Director Luke Fischer
face off in the water bottle flip competition.

Silence in the gallery as board member Sue Hilgert
watches her putt.
HR Director Laura Kushner announces competition results.

Time to box up the food for its journey to Keystone!

 Photo credit goes to LMC staffers Jeff Korte and Danielle Cabot

Friday, November 10, 2017

Strengthening the Relationship Between City Employers and Active Military Reserve and Guard Employees

Support for veterans and active members of the military reserve is key to walking the walk as a great employer—and public employers are no different. These employees and the skills they bring from their military service can be found in every local government profession, and understanding how to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) to support those still actively serving is key to a successful relationship between employer and employee.

The League is working to strengthen that relationship in our own organization, and is proud to have received the "Above and Beyond Award" in 2017 from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program. ESGR is a Department of Defense program established to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve component service members and their civilian employers. At the League's November board meeting special guest Matthew Meyer, volunteer ombudsman for the ESGR, was present to deliver the Above and Beyond Award.

Jo Emerson receives the Above and Beyond Award from ESGR Volunteer
Ombudsman Matthew Meyer on behalf of the League at November's board meeting.
The award recognizes the League’s support for our staff to participate in guard and reserve duties. Ryan Zipf and Patrick Arneson, both of whom are litigation attorneys and in the Army Reserve, nominated the League of Minnesota Cities. Thank you to Ryan and Patrick for your nomination, but most importantly, for your service.

Other local government employers recognized in 2017 with the Above and Beyond Award were Saint Paul Emergency Management, the Paynesville Police Department, and Three Rivers Park District- The Landing.

Statement of Support
Meyer was also present to witness LMC President Jo Emerson sign the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Statement of Support.The statement formally recognizes LMC’s commitment and support of its employees who also serve as citizen soldiers. You can see which Minnesota employers have signed the statement of support and learn more on the ESGR website.

ESGR's Matthew Meyer and LMC Executive Director Dave Unmacht
observe LMC President Jo Emerson sign the ESGR Statement of Support.

USERRA resources for cities
Beyond recognition, the ESGR also provides educational resources to help employers understand USERRA and resolve employment problems related to guard and reserve service before they escalate. Cities can access information about the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) on the ESGR website to learn more.

Members of the executive committee gathered with some of the League's
veterans and active service members for a photo.

Here's the ESGR statement of support:

We fully recognize, honor, and comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

We will provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

We appreciate the values, leadership, and unique skills Service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, Reservists, and Veterans.

We will continually recognize and support our country’s Service members and their families, in peace, in crises, and in war.

For more information about ESGR, visit

Photo credit goes to League staffer Jeff Korte

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Veterans Day 2017 Message From LMC's Executive Director

A Veterans Day message from Executive Director Dave Unmacht:
My great uncle, George Unmacht, (grandfather’s brother) was a colonel in World War II. We have a family photo of him being recognized by President Harry Truman in a White House ceremony in June 1947.  He is the most decorated veteran in our family.  Colonel Unmacht has gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.; Linwood Cemetery in his hometown of Dubuque, Iowa; and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii where he is buried. I never met my great uncle as he died before I was born; I have personally visited all three gravestones. 

Stories passed on to his family note that he—like countless individuals before and after him—was a proud veteran who committed his life to serving his country in the military.
We rightfully respect and value our veterans each day, however, on Veterans Day this November we want to recognize and extend our heartfelt thanks to all men and women who have served or are serving in the military.  Beyond their military service, many of these same men and women have continued to contribute to public service through involvement in city government as elected officials or staff.
It is with honor and respect on behalf of the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors and staff that I want to express our gratitude to all former and current members of our military for your dedication and commitment to this country. I am very proud of my great uncle for his service and of all veterans who deserve special recognition on this day and every day.
LMC Executive Director David Unmacht

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Spotted: More Bright Ideas From 2017 Regional Meetings

City officials gathered in Granite Falls and New Ulm on Oct. 11 and 12 to share bright ideas and shed some light on pressing city government issues (see what we did there?). Here are a few snapshots taken on the road!

Thanks to our Granite Falls hosts for a great Regional Meeting!

Heather Corcoran, IGR staffer, and Sue Hilgert,
mayor of Olivia, put their heads together for local gov.

Lively topics at the 2017 Regional Meetings include next generation
leaders, technology, LMC services, and a legislative review.

New Ulm City Manager Brian Gramentz offers a comment
while IGR Director Gary Carlson facilitates the mic-passing.

A big thanks to the staff and elected officials from host city
New Ulm for attending.

City officials and business partners have some bright ideas
for the future of Minnesota cities!

City officials from Stewartville, Nerstrand, and Spicer were ready to learn
and share local gov know-how.

The 2017 Regional Meetings will be gone in a flash! Check out the final dates to register for a location near you.

Photo credit goes to LMC staffers Heather Corcoran, Gary Carlson, and Danielle Cabot